India on Thursday signed an air bubble agreement with the Maldives, making it the sixth country in a growing list of places where Indians can travel to. The first flight to Male will leave from here on August 18.
An air bubble between countries allows citizens to travel freely between specified nations without having the need to undergo on-arrival quarantine. India currently has allowed travel to the US, the UK, Germany, France and Kuwait, and is in talks with Canada for a similar travel arrangement.
The agreement with Maldives was inked during a video conference between External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar and his Maldives counterpart Abdulla Shahid. During the virtual meet, India also announced a new Indian Line of Credit (LoC) of USD 400 million along with a grant component of USD 100 million for the Greater Male Connectivity Project. This will be the single-largest infrastructure project in the Maldives and will link Male with Villingili, Gulhifalhu, and Thilafushi islands.
Additionally, India renewed its commitment to provide 11 essential commodities to the Maldives to strengthen food security on the island.
The ministry also announced that a Cargo Ferry service between India and the Maldives will commence at an early date. In addition to connecting Male, the ferry service carries the potential to link Kulhudhuhfushi port to India and improve economy of northern Maldives. The initiative, which is expected to boost tourism, was announced during Modi’s two-day state visit to the Indian Ocean archipelago in 2019